Deferred-Action Now an Option for Young Illegal Immigrants
Young people who came to the United States illegally began applying for a legal temporary stay on Wednesday. In June, President Barack Obama bypassed Congress to establish a deferred-action program that prevents some of those young people from being deported. But the so-called Dream Act still isn’t the citizenship some immigrants were hoping for.
Edilsa Lopez, 23, is from Guatemala and recently graduated from UT with a degree in economics. She is applying for deferred action, but hoped Congress would pass the Dream Act by the time she graduated. That would have given her a chance to apply to become a legal U.S. resident.
“We have had so many oppositions in our lives – like in school,” Lopez says. “But I believe that’s what makes us work even harder.”
When she was 13 years old, Lopez and her 3 siblings left Guatemala and walked across Mexico to reunite with their mother, who was living in Texas. Smugglers separated the siblings and abused them, Lopez says, so she ran away and ended up homeless in Austin. Then, a woman helped her enroll in school.
On Wednesday, Lopez and other students calling themselves “Dreamers” met at the UT campus to celebrate the beginning of being able to file for deferred action. José Ramírez came to the U.S. illegally when he was 9 years old. His family is from Mexico.
“I actually have an offer with Brinks – not the home security system, but the armored trucks that transfer money from bank to bank,” Ramírez says. “I have a job offer with them. That’s why I’m hoping that everything turns out well with the deferred action.”
Ramírez is halfway to obtaining a degree in international relations at UT. He says his biggest dream is to be free of fear. Somehow, he hopes, the threat of deportation will become a thing of the past.
“Only God can stop me from my dream,” Ramírez says.
Work permits obtained through the deferred-action program will be good for two years. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates there are about 700,000 people under the age of 30 that would immediately qualify for the program.